Continuing the story not far from where the original Kick-Ass left off, the sequel Kick-Ass 2 finds its hero (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) teaming up with a group of ordinary citizens looking to rid the street of the criminal element. Meanwhile, the recently orphaned (at his own hand) arch-villain Red Mist/The Motherfucker (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) plots revenge on the self-made superhero. And Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), in what seems like training ground for her role in Carrie, gets to experience some good old-fashioned high school teen angst.
There’s a fine line to tread when it comes to making an action comedy. When it’s successful, the result is Ghostbusters or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. When it’s not, the result is Kick Ass 2. Hit the jump for my review of the film on Blu-ray.
Kick-Ass 2 is all over the place, trying to evoke so many different emotions and moods at once, it feels like a bunch of ingredients thrown into a blender that never gets turned on to the correct setting. There’s no narrative thrust here, rather uninspired vignettes of the characters moving from one uncompelling situation to the next. The movie jarringly vacillates between Kick Ass’s new group of crime-fighting pals, Hit Girl’s adjustment to high school life and (most gratingly) Motherfucker’s painfully unfunny assemblage of super-villains with little to connect any of these storylines on literal or thematic levels. Kick Ass’ crew lacks a narrative focus while Motherfucker’s plan is baldly rote. Even the Hit Girl thruline feels cribbed from some of Mean Girls’ deleted scenes. It all culminates in a showdown of costumed freaks where it’s difficult to distinguish the superheroes from the villains. But really, by that point, who cares?
Even the heavy-hitting supporting cast turns out to be of little to no use. Jim Carrey plays Colonel Stars and Stripes, fearless leader of the band of superheroes Kick Ass joins forces with. But Carrey’s performance is uneven and his character is often inconsistent. John Leguizamo also goes to waste, in the thankless role of Motherfucker’s butler.
The first film went for subversion in its tone and themes, and made a real attempt to turn the superhero genre on its ear. It knew it wanted to be more than just another violent action movie with some gags in it. Kick Ass 2 is so caught up in bloody violence and coarse, tasteless humor (to wit, “Motherfucker,” as the moniker of a supervillain), it doesn’t seem to have any point at all. So that begs the question – what does this movie want to be? An action film? A comedy? A movie with a social message about society and the need for a new type of justice? Sadly, if it wanted to capture any (or all three) of these ideals, it fails miserably.
Visually, the film is nothing special, the cinematography adequate at best. And while the filmmakers seem most proud of the movie’s van chase scene (as attested to in the featurette on the sequence), the effects look slapdash and the overall dynamic of the set- piece can’t ever decide if it wants to be funny or enthralling (for the record, it’s neither). The mix-down on this movie, (not unlike its narrative) is all over the place. Dialogue is often too low and the screams, gunshots and explosions are comparatively too loud.
A bevy of extras – an alternate opening (some hard violence, straight from the graphic novel involving Kick Ass getting shot and killed in a dream), a storyboard set-piece that would have featured the Nicolas Cage character from the first film, extended scenes and several behind-the-scenes featurettes – ultimately add up to a giant waste of time. Even the commentary by Johnson, Moretz and writer/director Jeff Wadlow fails to shed light on anything of cinematic note. Although, the actors and filmmaker do seem to be having a good time. It’s too bad the same can’t be said for the rest of us.
The storyboard elimination of Big Daddy is counterproductive, in that it only makes us long for Cage’s inspired Adam West-homage of a performance in the first movie. There’s nothing that comes close to that in this one.
Kick Ass 2 is disjointed, unfunny and lacks focus. The script feels like a first draft that was rushed into production before any of its elements had been finessed to gel together. But worst of all, the film commits the cardinal sin that no superhero movie should ever be guilty of – it’s never any fun.